Tag Archives: mental health

Paul Burstow MP writes… Mental health and employment support must be available to all who need it

For most people, work plays a defining role in their lives. It provides structure, the money to live and enjoy life, and for the lucky ones, it can provide a sense of achievement and purpose. Every one of these elements is a component in supporting good mental health, and helps to explain in part the vicious cycle of mental ill-health and unemployment, as well as the critical role that employment can play in mental health recovery.

But it’s sadly not true to assume that work is always good for you mental health. Surveys have found the mild to moderate mental health problems – including stress, anxiety or depression – are the most common reasons people are signed off work, and mental ill health costs UK employers £26billion every year: £8.5billion in sickness absence, £15.1billion in lost productivity and £2.4billion in staff turnover. That’s an average of more than £1000 for every employee, so it’s in everybody’s interests to make sure that employers do everything they can to improve employees mental health, and to encourage them to seek support and treatment as soon as mental health problems develop. While there are some fantastic employers who ‘get’ mental health and its debilitating impact on their employees as well as their business, a recent survey conducted by CentreForum found that two thirds of people said they had been treated unfairly in keeping a job, and 75% said they had stopped themselves applying for work due to fear of discrimination. This needs to end.

That’s why the Mental Health Commission I chaired made the workplace one of our priorities for action. As we recommended, there should be a concerted effort to make UK businesses and services mental health friendly employers, with all organisations with more than 500 employees signing up to a mental health kitemark and 90% of these organisations on board by 2020. I am proud to be able to say that we established the first government funding for the Time to Change campaign – which works to end mental health discrimination – during my tenure as Minister responsible for mental health. It is fantastic that under Norman Lamb, the government have committed to continue funding this crucial work.  To maximise our impact, we now need to ensure that all public sector bodies have taken up the mantle, and use public sector procurement to filter this commitment throughout the distribution chain. At the same time, Norman Lamb has called on all FTSE 100 companies to sign up to the Time to Change initiative – and this is a call we should all echo.

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Opinion: Mental health – is prevention a potential solution?

Just as public health experts develop strategies to tackle binge drinking, smoking and obesity, do we need to develop a more comprehensive approach to preventing mental ill health? With youth depression, alone, having doubled in the last 20 years, maybe it’s time to look again at ways to prevent mental health problems from taking their toll at different stages in our lives. It’s complicated, but here are just some thoughts on what might help.

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Opinion: How the UK immigration system damaged my mental health #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015I wanted to talk a bit about how immigrating to the UK has affected my mental health, because both mental health and immigration are subjects on which I ‎look to the Lib Dems to support me with, via good policies and campaigning.

I’ve been in the UK nine years now, but when I’m standing in that non-EU passports line (I’ve long been eligible for citizenship but I can’t afford the application fees), I can’t help but hear similar interrogations going on to the ones I remember when I first came here and was interrogated by a big scary scouser for two hours– how long are you staying? how much money have you got with you? — I can’t help but think “that’s how it started…”

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Thanks for talking #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015Regular readers will be used to me banging my drum on these pages about the work that Lib Dems are doing in government on mental health.

Mental health has been disadvantaged within the NHS for far too long, and changes like legislating for equality for mental health, introducing the first access and waiting time standards, and – in particular – confronting the poor state of children’s mental health services in many places are all incredibly important.

But something just as important has been happening here on Lib Dem Voice today.

I wrote here about Time to Talk a year ago, saying that contributions from fellow members had reinforced for me, powerfully, why I am a Liberal Democrat. Tackling mental health stigma is fundamentally about freedom – freedom from poverty, ignorance, and conformity.

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Opinion: He told me I was ordinary #timetotalk

Time to talk 2015Hi, my name is Alex. I’m an 18 year old who loves travelling, ABBA and wearing waistcoats for no apparent reason.

I’ve also got a mental illness.

The psychiatrists aren’t quite sure what it is. For a while they thought it was Bipolar Disorder, now they are starting to think it’s Borderline Personality Disorder. I’m a bit of a curious case.

I suffer from intense emotions: anxiety, anger, sadness, happiness etc. I have too much of all of them and switch between them at the drop of a hat. It makes me unpredictable and sometimes unreasonable. I store things up until I burst. Being my friend is difficult. You have to get used to the odd paranoid outburst and over enthusiasm when I’m in a very good mood.

One day a teacher did something to set me off. He’d joked about one of my habits – I still suck my thumb because it helps me feel safe – in front of my class. I took myself off to the bathrooms and burst into hysterical sobbing. I used my nails to scratch my arms red raw and kicked at the wall until my leg tired.

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It was a Monday in November 2000…#timetotalk

Time to talk 2015It was a Monday in November 2000 around 11am at work. My boss put his head round the corner:

“Have you got a moment, please Paul?”

“Yes, sure”, I replied.

I followed my manager, another Paul, to a room where a member of our Human Resources group was sitting. The long and the short of it was that they wanted me to take a week off work as paid leave and arrange for free counselling for me. I agreed. Boss Paul, bless him, drove me home in his posh BMW and waited around for my wife to come home so he could explain the situation to her, so she wasn’t “spooked”. (Her first reaction was that I was being sacked, but fortunately he was able to reassure her).

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An introduction to #timetotalk day

Time to talk 2015As I said last night, we are marking the Time to Change campaign’s #timetotalk day today to encourage all our readers to take 5 minutes out of their day to have a conversation about mental health. We have a series of thought provoking articles and it may be that, like last year, some more come in on the day.

I’m going to kick off with a brief post along the lines of that covering the themes suggested by the Time to Change campaign.

My name is Caron and I have experienced Depression and Anxiety on and off since I was a child. I’m currently in the middle of the worst episode of Depression I’ve had in 12 years.

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Tomorrow, it’s #timetotalk about mental health on Liberal Democrat Voice

We already talk quite a lot about mental health on Liberal Democrat Voice, but tomorrow we want to have a specific focus on the issue as part of Time to Change’s Time to Talk Day. They are asking all of us to take 5 minutes to have a conversation about mental health.

We are looking for contributions from readers, whether it’s sharing ideas or experiences to post on the site tomorrow. Please send them to [email protected] Ideally, they should be somewhere between 300-500 words, but feel free to be creative. If you want to share a video, or a graphic, that’s fine too.

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Opinion: Mental health is a hot topic again – and rightly so

Our Ministers have done much to rectify the shameful situation under Labour where mental health was a poor cousin to physical health – something Labour’s policies still haven’t addressed.

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Opinion: Time to dump the 4 hour A & E target

To be frank, as a doctor, I have been underwhelmed by our Liberal Democrat offering on health issues over the years; certainly we are not as strong on health as we should be.

The almost daily drip feed from the right wing press on NHS shortcomings and failures is demoralising to staff and frightening to patients and designed to be so. It serves no-one except those who want to undermine the public’s confidence in the NHS. The service treats three quarters of a million patients every day of the year, and for most people there is no alternative.

So I am  relieved that at last we have something distinctive to offer with Norman Lamb’s ideas on mental health; parity of access and delivery, more  research and funding. This is important, and we need to ‘own’ it as Liberal Democrat policy.

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Nick Clegg takes questions on Men’s Health UK’s Facebook page

Nick Clegg's men's health q and aOn Thursday, Nick Clegg took part in a question and answer session on the Men’s Health UK Facebook page. The magazine has published some of the session here.

He talked quite movingly about the need to tackle the stigma attached to mental health to make it easier for particularly men to talk about their illness:

 One of the keys to changing this is to ensure that mental health trusts work with families and friends of patients just as much as with the patients themselves. When I visited the superb Mersey Care trust last week I met a patient who told me that when he was in hospital for a heart operation he received a constant and welcome stream of visiting friends and family. Yet when he was in a mental health ward for five months he received only three visits during his whole time there. That says all we need to know about the crippling effect of the stigma that still surrounds mental health. That’s why campaigns like Time to Change are so vital.

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LibLink: Baroness Claire Tyler – Mental health matters

Writing on the Liberal Democrat website, Baroness Claire Tyler sets out detailed ways in which government can radically improve the treatment of mental health problems:

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Norman Lamb MP writes… We need to talk openly about suicide and work to prevent it

Yesterday was supposedly “blue Monday” – the most depressing day of the year.  The idea was dreamed up in 2005 by a TV marketing campaign to sell holidays and the myth persists.

But yesterday, Nick Clegg and I were talking about something really serious.  Almost 4,700 people took their own lives in 2013 in England alone, and suicide remains one of the biggest killers for men under the age of 50.  We hosted a conference bringing together leading figures in the mental health world to call for an ambition for ‘zero suicides’ across the NHS.

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Nick Clegg’s speech today on mental health

Nick clegg by dave radcliffe, liberal democratsThis is the full text of the speech Nick Clegg gave today at the Mental Health Conference that he co-hosted with Norman Lamb. You can see a video of part of the speech here.

Imagine breaking your leg, only to be told that your nearest care facility was half way across the country, with a long waiting list and no guarantees about when you’ll actually get the help you need. Or developing diabetes but being too scared to tell your family, friends and your boss about what’s happening, because you’re worried about how they might react and possibly losing your job.

If any of these things happened to someone with a serious physical health condition in our country, there would quite rightly be outrage. It would be on the front page of every national newspaper and dominate Prime Minister’s Questions every week. People would be out on the streets calling for reform. But this is exactly the kind of second-class treatment that people with mental health issues have had to endure for decades.

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Clegg: “Suicide is preventable, it is not inevitable”

Liberal Democrats are making sure that mental health stays in the headlines, and that our policies are linked in people’s minds with the issues. Today the focus has been on preventing suicide. Here was Nick Clegg speaking this morning:

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Norman Lamb praised in Cosmo…

Norman Lamb

Could we be on the brink of a huge  mental health breakthrough?

So asks no less a publication than Cosmopolitan in an article citing how Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb has been making the weather on ensuring that the NHS has the money it needs in the future and for saying that improving mental health treatment is one of the key aims for the next Parliament.

Over the past ten years, there’s been a 77% rise in self–harm admissions to hospital among women under the age of 25, and young women are most likely to suffer from eating disorders. We’re also twice as likely as men to suffer from anxiety disorders, and one in four women will require treatment for depression at some time in her life. So it makes sense that the NHS needs urgent help to make these changes, doesn’t it?

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Jim Hume MSP writes…No room for complacency on mental health

With 2015 seeing the end of the current Mental Health Strategy we have a real opportunity to look at the successes and failure of the approach we take to tackling mental ill health in Scotland.

Our health professionals do fantastic work to help people suffering from mental ill health. But a lack of resources means that we are often asking medical staff to work with one hand tied behind their back.

Liberal Democrats in government have helped ensure that the NHS in other parts of the UK prioritise mental and physical ill health equally. But this is not yet the case in Scotland.

The Royal College of Nursing and other groups have been clear that mental health is often the poor relation to physical health when it comes to funding within the Scottish NHS. The impact of underinvestment in these crucial services is damaging for patients and medical professionals alike.

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Clegg says Lib Dems would spend extra £8bn on NHS

nhs sign lrgNick Clegg has set out how the Liberal Democrats would invest in the NHS in government for the next five years.

From the Guardian:

Fleshing out the figure released by the deputy prime minister at a press conference, the Lib Dems said they would increase the NHS’s funding by £8bn a year by 2020-21 in three stages. They would make permanent the coalition government’s extra £2bn a year – which was announced in the autumn statement – by 2015-16.

In addition, Clegg said the party would find another £1bn a year in real terms in 2016-17 by capping pension tax relief for the wealthiest (which the Lib Dems said would save £500m), aligning dividend tax with income tax for those earning more than £150,000 (saving £400m) and scrapping the shares for rights scheme, which allows employees to forfeit certain employment rights in return for company shares (saving £100m).

Once it had reduced the deficit in 2017-18, Clegg said that the party would increase health spending in line with growth in the economy. He said: “It’s a combination of change plus more money and the reason we can do that, and no other party will be able to do that, is firstly, as we explained at our party conference, is we are going to introduce some tax changes which only affect the very wealthiest, to put in an extra billion pounds into the NHS, and next year and the year after that.”

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Decades of not understanding Mental Health has left too many Unhelped – but we are getting there

Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Health Minister, has written for the Huffington Post about the changes he’s been trying to implement in mental health care and treatment.

First he talked about services for young people:

Recent provisional data shows that hospital admissions for self-harm for young people aged 11-19 are at their highest for five years. Maybe it is better reporting, maybe it is a result of the added stresses young people face. But these figures represent real young people and their families and the serious emotional distress they face.

Some find it difficult to talk about their mental health, which is why it is so important for those who can to be open about the problems they have faced. Don’t underestimate how important it is to encourage others to feel they can talk about it. In a way, it’s the most important thing.

I want young people to get good and compassionate personalised care. I want them to be given both physical and mental health care which helps them in their time of need but also gives them techniques and support to help prevent or manage further problems.

That’s why, earlier this year, I convened a Taskforce to advise us on improvements to mental health services for children and young people. This is the first time a group of experts from across, health, education and social care have come together to focus on making sure every young person gets the care they need. Crucially, we are also involving young people in this work so they can give their views on what they want from services. And it’s my aim that services don’t just stop at the youngsters themselves – services need to support entire families to deal with the challenges of living with mental illness.

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Nick Clegg announces £150 million to help young people with eating disorders

Nick, Ibrahim and Norman in Brent mental health visitYesterday, Nick Clegg and Norman Lamb visited a youth centre in Brent where they announced £150 million was being invested in services to help young people with eating disorders. From the BBC:

Mr Clegg will say he wants to see services transformed, with the focus shifted from expensive institutional care to targeted community-based provision.

Eating disorders cost the NHS around £200m a year, and the bill for in-patient care averages out at £98,750 per admission.

From 2012 to 2013, there were 2,560 hospital admissions for eating disorders in England – a rise of 8% on the previous year.

One in five of those taken into hospital with an eating disorder was admitted and discharged on the same day.

But one in 17 stayed in hospital for longer than six months.

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Opinion: Should we take the ‘Mental’ out of Mental Health?

Thanks to the work of Norman Lamb and other Liberal Democrat MPs, mental health has risen up the political agenda. For many years, NHS spending on mental health has lagged far behind that of other conditions and research into treatments for mental illness has also been disproportionately low.  MIND recently estimated that local authorities in England spend, on average, only 1.36 per cent of their total public health budgets on mental health – even though such problems cost the country an estimated £100 billion a year.

The aspiration of policymakers now is to achieve ‘parity of esteem’ between mental and physical health, the subject of much debate in the health policy world.

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LibLink: Nick Clegg – Mental health is top of our list

Nick Clegg with 2010 manifesto at Glasgow 2014 by Liberal DemocratsWriting in the Express, Nick Clegg explains why he is making mental health a top priority for the Liberal Democrats:

I have ­decided to make mental health one of my priorities for the next parliament, something no political party has ever done before.

I want this commitment to ­continue to overhaul our mental health services on the front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto at the next election.

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Norman Lamb picks up an “Oscar” for his work on mental health

imageMinister of State for Care and Support Norman Lamb MP picked up the prize for the “Best Use of Evidence” at the Political Studies Association Annual Awards, dubbed the “Oscars of Westminster”. These were handed out at a dinner which took place last night at Church House, Westminster.

The MP for North Norfolk was presented with the award for his work on mental health by former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone in front of a packed audience of high-profile academics, politicians, political campaigners and journalists.

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Liberal Democrat members and ministers talk mental health for Channel 4’s political slot

Last week, the Liberal Democrats used their Political Slot with Channel 4 to talk about mental health. Norman Lamb said that it was “morally wrong and economically stupid” to deny people with mental ill health speedy treatment and talked about Liberal Democrat plans to introduce waiting time targets over the next five years.

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Lamb urges online therapy for teenagers with Depression and McInnes urges Scottish Government to improve mental health services for young people

Norman Lamb has been talking to the Times (£)  about different ways of helping children and teenagers with Depression. This could include accessing therapy via an internet app. This would augment, to replace traditional face to face therapy:

MPs on the health select committee said this month that mental health services for children and teenagers were inadequate from prevention to crisis care, as they reported increasing concerns over cyberbullying and self-harm websites.

Mr Lamb wants to use online tools to solve some of these problems, including computerised cognitive behavioural therapy, online counselling and peer support networks for the mentally ill.

“If you’re a teenager and your world revolves around digital access, we must make sure you get access to therapy online. So these programmes are being developed. We’ve got a taskforce looking at how we can modernise children and young people’s mental health and that’s one of the key elements to it,” he told The Times.

“What I want to achieve is a much more seamless service that allows you access online, face to face or over the telephone, whichever is appropriate.”

Some programmes had already been shown to work, he said. “These platforms are evidence-based so the risk is very low that they’re not appropriate. Some people may need more than that so you have to have access to a gradation of different type of service.”

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Nick Clegg taking questions on mental health on Mind’s Facebook page today

nick clegg live tweet town hall 1st may 2014In a Facebook first, Nick Clegg will be taking questions on mental health over on Mind’s Facebook page this lunchtime, starting at 12:30 pm.

He put this brief video on his own page to explain why he thinks this is important and is quoted on Mind’s website:

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Norman Lamb writes… NHS needs an extra £1.5 billion

nhs sign lrgFor too long mental health has been seen as a second-class issue in the NHS and I am determined to change that.

Today I’ve called for up to an extra £1.5 billion to be invested in the NHS next April. A significant amount of that money would go towards improving mental health services, especially for children and young people.

At our party conference in Glasgow, Nick Clegg said the Liberal Democrats will spend at least £1bn extra on health and care in each year of the next parliament, including £500m each year for mental health.

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Norman Lamb writes … Improving mental health services for children and young people

healthreportImagine for a minute you are a teenager, perhaps working hard for your A-level exams, struggling with relationships and all the social and academic pressures of school.  And on top of this, you might be among the 1 in 10 of your peers suffering from depression, an eating disorder, or another mental health problem.

But if mental health services are the “Cinderella service” of our NHS, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are the Cinderella Service of Cinderella Services.  Effective support for a young person experiencing a mental health problem can have a transformative effect on the course of their entire life.  But the current CAMHS system too often is woefully inadequate.

Earlier this year, I launched a CAMHS Task Force involving experts in the field, and also young people who have experience of mental health problems themselves.  The Task Force will look at how we can modernise children’s mental health service, making the best use of the resources available, and reforming services to end the “cliff edge” which occurs when young people move from under-18 care to adult services. It will look at how we can improve access – including through the use of exciting new online services – and how we can reduce the stigma of mental health services.

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Paul Burstow MP writes…Putting mental health at the top of the agenda

Mental health is so often in the news for the wrong reasons its good to finally have a few things to cheer about. Last month, though little noticed, Nick Clegg announced the start of a genuinely preventative programme in mental health with the launch of a series of front line mental health support pilots for blue light workers. People working in the emergency services experience some of the highest levels of work related stress, so it is absolutely the right place to start. And with poor mental health costing UK businesses £26 billion a year, taking mental health seriously in the workplace needs to be on every employers’ agenda – with government leading the way.

This followed on from ministerial commitment from Norman Lamb to continue funding for Time to Change, the campaign to end mental health stigma, and a rallying call for all FTSE 100 companies to sign up. It is a clear statement that good mental health should matter to all of us, and its heartening to see that companies like Royal Mail, Marks and Spencer and Barclays have already come on board.

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Norman Lamb warns against demonising people with mental ill health at Hallowe’en

We’ve always had great fun at Hallowe’en in our house. We love the guisers (none of this new fangled Trick or Treat stuff, if you please). My husband loves carving the pumpkin even if he isn’t as elaborate as some. My Facebook timeline has been full of everything from Pumpkin Daleks to the delicious irony of an actual Cinderella carriage. I have some very creative friends.

The Teenager is spending Hallowe’en with her friends and will be headed out in vampire dress leaving us to greet the scores of little devils, ghouls, zombies, fairies, princesses, ghosts and animals who will come …

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